Sierra Leone

   Since the link with St. Matthew's church was formalised in 2009 (this update is June 2012) a lot has been achieved. There have been three visits by members of Wivelsfield parish in 2009, 2010 and 2012. There have also been return visits by various members of St. Matthew's, notably Charles Clarkson-Williams who is their treasurer and our main contact.

    When we first visited they were on the verge of starting to build a church hall with flats above on at least one storey. Initially Wivelsfield contributed towards the 6 pillars which were to support the upper storeys - although 6 pillars later became 8! We have also enabled them to complete the floor of the first storey which they achieved just before the start of the rainy season in 2012. This means that, while it is raining, they will have a roof over their heads to start work on the interior of the ground floor.
    Wivelsfield Church Youth Club has raised money to help their counterparts in Aberdeen to purchase an electronic keyboard. We were given a demonstration during our 2012 visit!
    Wivelsfield Village School has raised almost £300 which was spent on equipment (mostly stationery items) during our 2010 and 2012 visits. By spending it in Sierra Leone we were able to see exactly what it was used for and it meant that the money went into the local economy.
    With the generous support of our church congregation, the village playgroup and Mill Hall Day Nursery we have been able to help this private inhitiative set up by a former teacher. It provides education for children up to 6 years old before they go on to primary school. Before our 2012 visit a suitcase left at the back of the church was filled with pencils, exercise books, crayons and other stationery items left by members of the congregation. We were able to deliver these personally to Shida.
    Our own Mothers' Union donated £50 to their St. Matthew's counterparts to enable them to buy mosquito nets in their project to reduce the threat of malaria amongst families in Aberdeen. Again, this money was delivered personally.
    A second suitcase was left at the back of the church prior to our 2012 visit for the donation of medical items such as bandages, plasters, paracetemol pills and other basic requirements. These were left at the house of Vikki Luke, a nurse in Freetown who lives opposite St. Matthew's and who gave us hospitality on our first two visits. Nurses in Freetown have to pay for their own training and some of their own equipment.
    St. Matthew's has a fund to help very poor parishioners and we have donated our 2011 Harvest Festival church collections (amounting to over £100) to this.
    The main thrust of our financial help has been to contribute towards a scheme that had started before our first visit. It is a joint venture between St. Matthew's and the Khabatala Mosque in Aberdeen. Each year they raise money to send two children (one Christian and one Muslim) to secondary school. Secondary education is not provided by the state and has to be paid for. Although the annual cost of school fees, uniforms and books is currently (2012) a mere £80 this is way beyond the reach of  most Sierra Leone families. The scholarships go to children who have reached a high standard in primary school tests but who cannot afford the fees.
    In 2010 we supported 2 children, in 2011 we supported 4 and in 2012 we shall support another 4. In all cases we are supporting Christian and Muslim children in equal numbers. Each child will be supported throughout their secondary education as long as they reach satisfactory standards. By 2016 we will be supporting 24 children and will hope to be able to help them into further education if they qualify.
if you would like any further information on our link with Sierra Leone, please email

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